Monday, February 26, 2007

My Traveling Star

**not finished...more pics to come**

So the first week of vacation, I decided to take myself away to Ireland. I guess I worded that oddly, but seriously, I used this trip as a chance to save myself from...myself. The past couple of weeks leading up to vacation have been stress-filled. In two months I am starting an internship. What internship you may ask...well that's a GOOD question because I still don't know and it's freaking me out. When I get stressed out, I don't do to well in large Paris. So I needed to get the 'hout' as Emily and Nanda would say. I've always wanted to see Ireland so I went. It has been such a learning experience.

My flight was early Saturday morning so I had to catch the metro when it opened at 6am. I was flying out of Paris Beauvais which is over an hour out of Paris by bus. The metro stopped two stops away from the stop where I needed to meet the bus. I freaked out. A very nice guard/worker/man told me to follow the signs for a bus that would take me to the stop. So I did. It was actually very easy (because I followed the crowd...baaaah). So I took the €13 bus to Beauvais. Let me tell you about this airport. It is tiny!!! There was such a long line to check in...and then an even longer line for passport control. Security went quickly but then I just entered a big room with four gates. I had no idea what gate my flight was from so I just chilled. I met this very nice couple, Emily and Sage. So it ended up this flight was free for all when it comes to seating but somehow I had preferred seating so I got to get on the plane first. Yay for small favors. It was an easy flight to Ireland. Upon landing, I got my luggage and caught a bus to Dublin. The bus station was pretty close to my hostel so it was easy to get there and check in.

So the rest of Saturday I wandered around and got to know Dublin. I saw Dublin castle, Chester Beatty Library and the special exhibit Sacred Traditions (cool religious books and artifacts), Dublinia (a way kitch-y exhibit of the vikings influence on Dublin), Christ Church Cathedral (gorgeous), and Trinity College and the Book of Kells (a Latin version of the four gospels). It was a busy day.

Sunday, I got up early (and still had ten hours of sleep) and enjoyed the free Irish breakfast provided by the hostel. I took a quick walk along the river Liffey and saw Saint Patrick's Cathedral. Jonathan Swift was dean there (it's good to be dean :-P) for awhile and is now buried there.
At 11, I took a bus tour along the south coast and saw Powerscourt Estate. It was amazing!! The tour price included admittance to the gardens. I had an hour and a half to wander around. It was sooooo windy. The fountain in the middle of the lake was getting me wet!

I got back to Dublin 3ish and went to the free art gallery. I wandered a little but was so tired I headed back to the hostel early. I had fish and chips for dinner!

Monday was another Ireland fun filled day! I got up a little later and took a tour at 10 am towards the north coast. We visited Malahide castle.
This castle has been in the Talbot family for over 800 years but the latest owener, the Honorable Rose Talbot had to sell it to the Dublin government. After the tour, I went to the Guinness Factory and learned how beer was made: hops, barley, water, yeast.

Monday was also a big day for me in another regard. I learned how to be alone...well, conquered! I ate in a restaurant alone. A full, sit down, waiter, bill, and all restaurant. Then, I went and saw a movie alone. I sat through a movie in a movie theater alone. I'm a big girl now!

Tuesday morning, I had an early (but cheap) flight to Cork. Heading to the airport, I was actually sad to be leaving Dublin. I had fun discovering the ins and outs and had made it mine in a way so I felt like I was leaving home. I slept off an on to Cork and arrived to wonderful Irish weather of rain and wind. I had to wait about 15 minutes for the bus to arrive to take us soggy travellers to Cork. I must admit I did a good job booking hostels because both the Dublin and Cork hostel were right down the road from the main bus stations. I am not, however, good at finding hostels and walked past this one also while trying to find it.

Anyway, it was about noon, I couldn't go to my room, so I left my luggage 'in good hands' and left to wander around. I walked through the fantastic shopping street (sigh) and found St. Finn Barr's Cathedral. Service was in progress and had just started so I didn't feel like waiting around. I headed back into town, checked in the hostel, and decided to head to Blarney, about half an hour away. It had been raining a little in Cork but the weather at Blarney was fantastic!! I fell in love (again) that day. When people say go to your happy place in your mind, I'll revisit Blarney. Anway, you walk through the front gate where you pay, and it's kind of woodsy so you can't see the castle.

The grounds are gorgeous and there's a small stream. After crossing a cute bridge you can see the castle. It looks like the cover of a romance novel Nish and I would read. It is gorgeous! Writing makes me want to go back. It's such an old stone castle. Visitors have free reign to walk through as they want. The spiral stone stairs were kind of steep and slippery. It is hard to imagine people living there! From what remains, you can see the kitchen, chapel, banqueting room, family room, great hall, 4 different bedrooms, and then the blarney stone is on the 'roof'. The views, by the way, are incredible from up there! So I had to do it...I kissed the blarney stone! it's freaky but so worth it! Besides, what's the point of going!? And no Drew, no mouth herpes! The grounds of Blarney castle are amazing. I wandered around for a little bit before leaving. So when I got back that evening, I researched what to do the next day since Cork didn't have too much going on and I didn't have any money to take advantage of the amazing shopping.

I ended up taking a bus to Killarney about two hours away to visit the National Park and see Castle Ross. It was so windy but it was an amazing walk through the woods and fields.

I felt like Keira Knightly in Pride and Prejudice (I like to walk; Yes, I know). The strong wind turned into a storm though so I ended up soggy. I'd love to return in better weather because it is a huge park with lots of attractions (both nature and historical castles). I stayed for about four hours before giving in to nature and taking a bus back. I had dinner with some new friends at the hostel.

My flight to Berlin was at 6:50 Thursday morning. I slept most of the way! When I landed in Berlin, I had to take a metro-ish train into the city to the main train station to buy a ticket to Chemnitz (where Pat lives) via Leipzig (where we met to walk around). I had some issues with the metro part but after that I was fine. And I don't speak German! So in Leipzig, besides a little bit of hail, Pat and I saw the church where Bach is buried. It's a nice little town. We took the train on to Chemnitz, another hour-long ride. After dumping my stuff in Pat's room, we did a quick tour of Chemnitz, famous for its large Karl Marx head, and then met up with Pat's awesome friends for dinner at a Hungarian restaurant.

Friday morning, Pat and I took a train to Dresden. I was very excited about seeing this town because I played a piece of music in memory of the bombing of Dresden. It was a beautiful town! After dumping our stuff at Pat's friend's place, we set off. I had a bratwurst for lunch (yum). We saw so much! We went into the Zwinger, an old Palace that is now different museums. We saw a famous Raphael painting, The Sistine Madonna, with the two cherubs at the bottom looking up at Mary. It's so pretty. Then we
took a tour of the Opera. It must be a rule that all opera houses are fantastic. I paid two euro to get to take pictures and I'm glad I did. We then went to the Church of Our Lady which was just reopened after renovations from being bombed. It was very pastel-y as Pat would say. We went back to the Zwinger (we had a day pass) to see something Germany is famous for, porcelain. There were some very pretty displays. After that, Pat and I met up with his friend Creed for dinner.
Then we headed to a friend's apartment for a birthday party. It was a socialist themed party (I wore red) so Pat dressed at the Karl Marx head of Chemitz. It was a late night.

Saturday, we kind of slept in...till noon. We got dressed and went to this brunch place. It was fantastic. I had some traditional German food...don't know any names though. Then Pat and I trained it to Berlin. He had stayed in a hostel there before so he took me straight there and we checked in. It was already dark, so we kind of wandered around and then chilled at a cafe and made it an early night.

Sunday morning we checked out and stored our luggage. We were out and about by 9. Oh we saw so much! We started at Alexanderplatz, two churches (almost identical) and a theater. From there we walked to Checkpoint Charlie, a famous crossing between west and east Berlin during the Wall times. It was quite moving to see remains of the wall and know the history and that peace was reached during my lifetime. After a coffee break to warm up, we walked (alot) more. We saw the new Sony Center-amazing architecture. Then we passed a holocaust memorial. This place was amazing, it's hard to describe so please take time to see the photos. Then we walked up the block to Brandenburg gate and walked down 'under the limes' avenue (lined with lime trees!). After a lunch break at this cool Italian restaurant, we went up the Berliner Cathedral. I say up because we got to climb up to the cupola and see the view from the top. Then we went to the crypts and saw important dead people. After that, it was time for culture, so we went into a museum and saw some lovely art. We wandered around a bit more after that, had Indian food for dinner, and then headed to the train station to be early for our trains. I took a night train from Berlin back to Paris. It was a wonderful way to end my week of vacation. Ok, not vacation, travel.

Monday, February 19, 2007


**recently updated**

Patrick is visiting me!!! Patrick and I were neighbors freshman year and remained friends throughout college. He is a Fulbright scholar teaching English in Chemnitz (k not sh...oops), Germany. He decided to come visit me in Paris during part of his two-week break. So far we've had a fantastic time! He arrived Friday evening from Brussels. I met him at the trainstation and after dropping his stuff off at home, we went to dinner in the Latin Quarter. From there, we met everyone else at Nanda's (they'd already gone through 5+ bottles of wine/champagne) and headed to rue Mouffetard. Beer Pong Palace was a let down the second time...too many americans, I think word of Paris' official beer pong table got out.

Saturday was a beautiful day. We got up semi-early and did a little bit of shopping at Les Halles, my new favorite rainy-day place. It's several levels of shopping!!! After working up an appetite, we grabbed lunch at a little cafe and had a wonderfully typical rude French waiter. I'm glad Patrick got to experience that day 1. sigh. Anyway, we then headed towards Ile-de-la-Cite. We walked through Saint-Chapelle, the chapel for the original Palace of Paris. It was sunny at that point so the light shining in the stain glass windows was fantastic. From there, we headed to Notre Dame. I convinced Patrick to climb the tower without me one day while I was in class. We were a little tired at that point so we did a typical Parisian thing and sat and had a coffee in the Saint Michel area. It's a good place to people watch. After that, I showed Pat Opera Garnier but we got there right at 4:30 when inside closed to guests. Then we headed to the Arc de Triomphe. We didn't climb up but we did walk around and take photos. I then drug him down the Champs-Elysees. He was very patient while I window-shopped at Cartier :-P At place de la concorde, we grabbed the metro home for dinner and a relaxing evening watching The Office.

Sunday was even more beautiful than Saturday. We got moving a bit slower and didn't leave till 12:30. We took a sack-lunch to Pere Lachaise and hung out there all day!!!! Please look at this album: We wandered around for about 4 hours till it closed at 5:30.

Did you see the black cat in photo 4? That little bugger jumped out of one of the 'little house thingies' (for lack of a technical word) and scared the crap out of me! Pat and I proceeded to take photos of him but he didn't leave.

From there we headed to the Latin Quarter and had Chinese for dinner. It was fantastic!!! Then we returned home utterly exhausted.

So now that I'm in class the next couple of days, Patrick has to fend for himself in Paris but I think he'll do ok. I don't have class Tuesday morning so we're going to go check out St. Eustache...yet another cathedrale before my afternoon class.

Here's the rest of my photos:
more february (now full)-


Patrick in Paris!(not full yet)

So I realize it's been two weeks but I wanted to finish up writing about Pat's time in Paris! Wednesday morning I didn't have class so we went to St. Eustache and the Pantheon. St Eustache was built between 1532 and 1640. The inside was beautiful! From there, we wandered to the Seine, at a quick lunch. Pat had a croque monsieur...fancy ham n cheese! We then went to the Pantheon which was another church, now famous for its crypt. Famous important people like the Curies, Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Emile Zola, Louis Braille, et Jean Rousseau are entombed in the crypt. So that was our wonderful morning. Pat explored Paris on his own the rest of the time but we had a wonderful crepe dinner that night before he had to leave Thursday morning.

to see photos of the rest of our adventures:

Sunday, February 11, 2007

February Song

So February in Paris is a lot like January in Paris-overcast and some rain-yet the sun makes an appearance every once in a while and makes for a nice day. Take today for example...I woke up and it was raining...yet the sun was shining! That wouldn't have happened 2 weeks ago! Granted, last wednesday it looked like this in the morning: but by the afternoon, it was quite pleasant.

So it's been a week of group hanging out:
Wednesday was Samantha's birthday so we had a fantastic dinner at Nanda's.

Friday, we went to a cafe/bar in Rick's neighborhood to enjoy happy hour.

Saturday was such a beautiful day in Paris! It was somewhat cloudy but you could see blue sky. I had an enjoyable walk along the Seine and then played around in the Latin quarter with Rick and Samantha. We all got together for dinner in the Latin quarter at this fantastic Italian restaurant! After dinner, we headed to Nanda's for a little wine and gave Samantha her birthday present.

Sunday was pretty so I opted to be outside again. I hung out with big brother Rick and we had a nice but very windy walk from Bastille to Place de la Concorde. Then we headed up to Montmartre. We walked through Sacre Coeur during mass (oops :-/) but it was so beautiful. There were singing nuns! I wish I knew how to describe it without being cheesy but it really was like being in heaven and hearing angels sing.

So, Paris is a town like no other. Dogs are more cherished than children. I love walking down the street to my metro and seeing all the cute little dogs (in cute little sweaters) AND even men have those cute little girly dogs. They (the dogs not the men) are just so adorable. There was one guy on the metro that was holding his cute pug over his shoulder like a baby. The dog just sat there looking so sad (I love pug faces). I wanted to steal that puppy.

One thing I don't like about Paris is that motorcycles have free reign-road, sidewalk, wherever! Yes, a motorcycle can drive on the's annoying. They park there too! >:O Plus, they squeeze in and out of traffic lanes. I guess my daddy would love it!

So, being a perfect sports-lover's girlfriend, I've tried to start following European sports. There's a tournament going on now called Six Nations. It's a rugby tournament for Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, France, and Italy. Saturday, Rick, Samantha and I saw the Scotland/Wales game in a Scottish pub....thank god Scotland won. Today, Rick and I caught the France/Ireland game in an Irish pub. We were uncertain of who to cheer for being in an Irish pub in France so we waited and followed the crowd. France won in the last minute and it was an exciting game. I think the pub was a mixed crowed because there were cheers going on all the time. So the term touchdown in American football comes from rugby. To score in rugby, you actually have to touch the ball down in the endzone. Then the additional point kick is from where you touched it down, not the center of the field like in football. Cool huh!?

So I've been here over a month now and it's still hard to believe that I'm living in Paris. Being in class 9-5 sucks because we miss things being open and by the end of class we're exhausted and just want to go home. On the weekends, I try to take things in-visit museums, walk around and enjoy the town. I really want to make Paris my home and not feel like an outsider wherever I am. One thing is for sure...I love this city!

february photos:


Sunday, February 4, 2007

A thousand beautiful things

What a fantastic weekend in Paris!!!!!! It was sunny, not one, but BOTH days!!! It was great. So I started off the weekend lamely. I stayed home Friday and spent about 9 euro at the laundromat. Oh well! Saturday, I woke up pretty late (I deserved it!) and met up with Jill and Rick at Musee d'Orsay. We met up at a cafe-Les Deux Musees-and had a coffee before going in. This building is awesome. Formerly a train station, it was turned into a museum in 1986. It houses famous paintings from the period of 1848-1914. We wandered around for about three hours before meeting up at the cafe again. I saw some of my favorites-Degas, Monet, Renoir-but I also found a new favorite: Camille Pissarro. His (oops) landscapes are so beautiful and rival those of Monet.

renoir: country dance and city dance

degas: the star

monet: woman on a hill with an umbrella (facing right and facing left)

Saturday night, I met up with Emily, Josh, and Kristen for a drink at a cafe up in Montmartre. We sat outside under a heat lamp and enjoyed the jazz and the atmosphere. It was a nice evening.

Sunday, I slept in again...I stay up too late! I decided that since it was a gorgeous day, I wanted to be outside! So I headed to the end of line one on the east side of town and visited Chateau de Vincennes and Bois de Vincennes. What a beautiful area!!! The chateau was built where a hunting lodge used to be when the woods became royal in 1037. The castle eventually became one of the court's residences and a center of government.

The woods the belong to the chateau are amazing. There are four different lakes, a cemetery, a zoo, a farm, a racecourse for horses, and a soccer park. There were so many people out to enjoy the weather. People were pushing babies along, little kids were riding bikes, others were out jogging. It was wonderful to just be out and enjoying nature. Because the place is so big, I decided to head to lake Minimes since it was closer on the map and I wasn't sure of distances. I hope to go back another weekend to explore more!

more photos:
musee d'orsay (includes pics of my apt):

vincennes (chateau et bois):

my famous classmates in the portuguese track: